Q&A Scene: Ollie Bown of Musify & Gamify


Tell us about your show?
It’s a collection of exciting work from Sydney and beyond that looks at intersections between music and games from a range of perspectives, particularly how technology creates the potential for music that can respond to its context, as in videogame music. There’s a range of bizarre experimental pieces including new music by Ensemble Offspring, a guitar distortion pinball machine, a musical game of bowls and some sublime video games. I’m working with Lian Loke who is a fellow academic at the Design Lab at the university of Sydney, and an awesome team based around that lab.

How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
Molecular gastronomy – lots of foam, precise patterning, unexpectedness, ritual and strange juxtapositions.

Which song resonates most strongly and why?
That’s a tall order asking a guy to pick just one piece of music, and a song at that.
But since you ask, outside of the experimental tech-music I make, I’ve been loving Nick Cave’s recent work, a great Aussie musician who lives in Brighton in the UK. In his recent movie he said that making music is something like ‘Putting two disparate images beside each other and seeing which way the sparks fly. Like putting a small child in a room with a Mongolian psychopath, and seeing what happens. Then you send in a clown, say, on a tricycle, and again, you wait, and you watch…and if that doesn’t do it…you shoot the clown’.
That resonated perfectly with everything I’ve ever known about making music.

Any on the road anecdotes?
I used to gig a lot in Europe with my band Icarus (http://www.icarus.nu). Now I do more digital arts stuff. The most exciting stuff that happens to me tends to involve things getting lost or broken, with some kind of dramatic fixing or backup/restore episode minutes before the gig is about to happen. I don’t think you want the juicy details.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
I’m very technology driven. It’s a fascination. I tend to let it dominate how I take on creative projects. I’m somewhat apologetic about that. If someone says art shouldn’t just be about technology, I agree, but the great thing about art is it can be about whatever you like. Mine is about technology.

What’s next for you?
I’m moving around the corner to UNSW’s Art+Design faculty (formerly COFA) soon. That place is packed with interesting artists working with electronic media, including the National Institute for Electronic Art, and the Creative Robotics Lab, so I’ll be in heaven. I also have a record coming out with an amazing group called Tangents (https://www.facebook.com/TangentsSydney) soon, and I’ll be releasing some of the software associated with a couple of projects I’ve been working on by the end of the year.

What’s your scene?
Experimental electronica, musical metacreation, multiplicitous media, hacking.

About Ollie Brown

I am a researcher and maker working with creative technologies. I come from a highly diverse academic background spanning social anthropology, evolutionary and adaptive systems, music informatics and interaction design, with a parallel career in electronic music and digital art spanning over 15 years. I am interested in how artists, designers and musicians can use advanced computing technologies to produce complex creative works. My current active research areas include media multiplicites, musical metacreation, the theories and methodologies of computational creativity, new interfaces for musical expression, and multi-agent models of social creativity.


Engaging with contemporary perspectives on ‘play’, Musify+Gamify is a unique event that is a global first, focused directly on this new dynamic potential of music and exploring the spaces where music play and game play meet. Taking cues from last century’s music revolutions that took us from electrified instruments to bedroom recording, to more recent interactive technologies that have seen built environments join the sonic palette; this experience is not merely about video game music – it explores the whole concept of interactive design. As curator Ollie Bown has noted, “Musify+Gamify will bring together local and international artists, reflecting on their relationship to musical and gameplay experiences. It will provide a highly accessible platform to explore experimental music concepts, and will engage musicians and composers in the ways that music is becoming increasingly a tool in interactive experience design, from ringtones to reality TV scores.”

Curated by Ollie Bown and Lian Loke, the centerpieces of the event are two concerts of bold experimental music by groundbreaking Australian artists including Ensemble Offspring, Robbie Avenaim and Chris Abrahams, 7Bit Hero, Alon Isar and renowned BAFTA nominated game composer David Kanaga, of Dyed and Proteus. Taking place in the Seymour Centre, they will be complemented by external interventions to the auditorium incorporating ‘gamified’ audience participation in the creation of music. The Seymour Centre’s foyer will host a free series of diverse international musifications and gamifications, videogames, generative music and contemporary and interactive experiences, including works and experiences by David Kanaga, Lucas Abela, Michaela Davies and The Futile Research Lab.

To kick off Musify+Gamify, The Future of Music?, is a debate to be held as the first event of Vivid Music @ Seymour, featuring performances by Australian new music artists and includes speakers Stephen Ferris of Vivid Sydney, Damien Ricketson of Sydney Conservatorium and Musify+Gamify curators Dr. Ollie Bown and Dr. Lian Loke.

Vivid Music @ Seymour – Musify + Gamify

Musify + Gamify Concert 1 – Everest, Friday 29th May 2015
Ensemble Offspring (performing works by Julian Day, Cor Fuhler, Damien Ricketson, Steffan Ianigro)
Robbie Avenaim and Chris Abrahams
Michaela Davies
Alon Ilsar plays airsticks, joined by Lucas Abela’s Mini Duelling Guitars.
Time: 7.30pm  Duration: 1hr 10mins.
Tickets: Adult $34, Conc $26

Musify + Gamify Concert 2 – Reginald Theatre, Saturday 30th May 2015
7Bit Hero (solo set) (QLD)
Austin Buckett performs with a new interactive AV work by David Kanaga (US)
Paul Heslin (ACT)
The Infosthetic Orchestra (James Nichols, Laura Altman, Pia van Gelder, Tom Smith, Alex Whillas, Ollie Bown)
Time: 7.30pm / Duration: 1hr 10mins.
Tickets: Adult $34, Conc $26

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